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I’m not sure of Hilary’s take on these, but based on my performance to date, I’m picking based on what I want to see more so than what I might expect to see. Who is going to Dallas? The guys on the field will let us know before the end of the day, but here are relative words prior to the opening kickoffs:

Packers at Bears (Hilary)

My dear husband has worn off on me, passing along his great admiration of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers QB has taken over from Lord Favre and I’d love to see him succeed and have a better career than his predecessor. Da Bears – I just don’t know much about them. I’m not an NFC gal and I probably only saw a handful of Bears games this year, but I’m not a believer in Cutler. It’ll be another cold game, at Soldier Field, but I think the Pack is the hotter team right now. Perhaps another pick ’em game, and another pair of solid defenses going at each other. Whoever makes fewer turnovers likely wins this game – Packers over Bears 21-17.

Packers at Bears (Ross)

Clay Matthews art by Mako Jordan

Go Pack Go! I would like nothing more than to see quarterback Aaron Rodgers hoist the Lombardi Trophy to put an exclamation point on the disastrous end of tyrannical reign the QB before him in Green Bay put all football fans through.

Mike McCarthy continues to show he is a solid head coach who gets the most out of all levels of talent suiting up. McCarthy, Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews have the same mentality (Read my thoughts from last year about Matthews as a rookie) and that is what has propelled this team each week.

I don’t believe the Bears will be pushovers, but I also don’t really believe in the Bears.

The Lovie Smith situation seems strange and I’m really curious if Mike Martz, leveraging the fact he has made Jay Cutler a respectable quarterback, into internal consideration to replace Smith. Conspiracy theory type thoughts, but based off things I’ve heard about Martz, I would not be surprised if there were rumblings after their season (next week). Packers 35 – Bears 24

Jets at Steelers (Hilary)

This should be a great game – two powerful, unpredictable defenses going at it in single-digit weather. I am unquestionably rooting for the J E T S, but I’m not picking with my heart this time. The Steelers are clutch, they’ve been in the playoffs with this core of players before, and they are at home, at the deafening Heinz Field (where I hope to see a game someday, preferably someone like the Rams at Steelers, because then I won’t care quite as much who wins). I like the Jets a lot, and obviously, they’ve beaten some of the best to get to this point. The young QB Sanchez is 4-1 in the playoffs, all on the road, so even if he’s not perfect, he’s done enough to get a lot of wins when the pressure is on. This game is essentially a pick ’em, but I’ve seen the Steelers win when it counts too many times, and with my track record this year, maybe if I pick them, they’ll lose. Steelers over Jets 24-21, with at least one defensive TD in the game.

Jets at Steelers (Ross)

Empire State Building supports Rex

I don’t know if there is a franchise in any sport that I have as much respect for as the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have worked for the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns and don’t even want to look at the records, or scores, from games where I was associated with the opponent against Pittsburgh.

Teams know they have to give an incredible performance, especially in the Steel City, to knock these guys out. But as the Chargers and Patriots have shown, they can be beat in Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.

I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again, Jets head coach Rex Ryan (as well as the coaches he took with him) took the Baltimore Ravens persona and outfitted it in green and white. The talent is there, but it is the attitude and the belief of the players in the head coach that will allow the Jets to go into Heinz Field and win.

No details. The Jets will beat a great Steelers team and cause a euphoric 2 weeks in New York City. Jets 24 – Steelers 17

Here’s to everyone staying healthy and the players, not the officials, deciding the games. Have fun no matter who you are cheering for.

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